Even before all the first inhabitants had moved into their
homes, a number of residents formed the Burleith Citizens Association and
adopted its constitution in January 1925. In the early years, the association
was instrumental in getting superior streets, street lights, sidewalks, and
improved bus service. Later, it fought for and obtained playgrounds for its
children, a community center at Gordon Junior High, night classes at Western
High, and the Georgetown branch of the D.C. Public Library built in 1935 at
Wisconsin Avenue and R Street, on the site of the old reservoir, from which
Reservoir Road derives its name.
Although there have been ups and downs during its history, the
Burleith Citizens Association has continued its active role in the community,
holding regular meetings, sponsoring special events, and representing the
residents' interests to city officials.
Every era had its special concerns, some of which were specific
to the neighborhood, some of which reflected what was going on natioa1ly. For
example, during the late 1950s, the association minutes reveal that members were
bothered by aircraft noise, oversized buses, and the possibility of highway
construction that would affect the neighborhood. During those same years, the
association unanimously approved a resolution deploring and condemning the
opening of any merchandising establishment or the conduct of sales on Sundays,
with the exception of establishments supplying emergency needs. Meetings were
devoted to topics such as the Attorney General's list of subversives and the
problem of juvenile delinquency. One incident of particular concern involved a
dynamite explosion that occurred late one Saturday night in October 1956. Police
never did discover who was responsible for the blast, which blew out the windows
of a number of houses on 35th Place and T Street. What little evidence there was
seemed to point to a carload of four or five teenagers who were observed parked
on T Street, playing loud music.
Despite concern with the issue of suffrage, by 1960, D.C.
residents still were not permitted to vote in presidential and vice-presidential
elections. Consequently, the association conducted a straw poll, the result
being Nixon 92, Kennedy 42. It was not until 1964 that D.C. residents were
permitted to vote in a presidential election.
Other discussions of the period involved the pros and cons of
fluoride in the drinking water, the problem of untreated sewage being dumped
into the Potomac and the need to separate the sanitary and storm sewers, the
possibility of a two-lane park road through Glover-Archbold Park in connection
with proposed Three Sisters Bridge construction, and the need for a stop light
on Wisconsin Avenue in front of the Safeway store. Despite a number of concerted
campaigns to have such a light installed, it didn't happen until 1966, when Mrs.
West, a woman in her eighties, pounded on some city desks for action.
Surprisingly, the Burleith Citizens Association was almost
terminated in 1962. With meetings held only every other month and paid
membership down to 149, a motion was made to disband the association for lack of
interest. However, the members voted to continue, and one year later, after a
vigorous membership drive, paid membership reached an all-time high of 351 of a
possible 535 households.
While the neighborhood schools were going through some
traumatic changes and the nation was faced with the problems of the Vietnam War
and Watergate, the early 1970s in Burleith saw the first annual picnic in 1971
and the big 50th anniversary of Burleith in 1973. That celebration was marked by
congratulatory telegrams from President Nixon and Shannon and Luchs (the
original builders of most of the Burleith homes), and by a proclamation by D.C.
Mayor Walter Washington, naming June 2, 1973, "Burleith Golden Anniversary